Progress in Augusta

May 14, 2015

  Tuesday May 12, 2015 was a very good day for small farmers and their patrons in the Maine State Legislature.  The Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry met to have work sessions on four local food rights bills.   
The results were extremely gratifying for those of us who have worked so hard to protect the people of Maine’s rights to practice their traditional food ways.    Each of these bills seeks to advance the principles and the content, partially or in full, of the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance (LFCSGO) now passed in 13 towns in Maine.  While local control of food continues to spread outward from town to town in Maine, we now have a visible sign that the community governance of food may be ready to move upward to the state level as well!
These are just preliminary results but the strong support of the committee will go a long way to helping these bills pass on the floors of the House and the Senate.  Some legislators are very confident the bills will pass, but some suspect they could still be derailed by the unpredictable and unseen forces of Augusta politics. Don’t stop working on passing the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance if your town is considering it; it may prove more important than ever.

LD # 925  An Act To Promote Small Diversified Farms and Small Food Producers

Summary: This bill facilitates direct sales between Maine farmers and consumers. It allows persons preparing food in their own homes to sell directly to consumers or to offer homemade food at certain events without being licensed as food establishments.

NOTE:  A bill sponsored by one of our strongest allies in the House Representative Ralph Chapman was voted out of committee with a strong Ought To Pass with only one Representative voting against it.   [On 5/14 this bill was brought up again and the restrictions on where these transactions could take place, i.e. not at farmer’s markets, were reinstated and the vote was unanimous.]

LD # 1291    An Act To Promote Food Self-sufficiency for the People of the State

Summary:  This bill directs the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, in coordination with various state agencies, to develop and administer an agricultural jobs network linking farms and facilities that process agricultural products grown in the State with available workers who are involved in farming or a local food industry or who are required to perform community service and to develop an educational marketing campaign to promote food self-sufficiency by encouraging the public to grow gardens, to raise farm animals and to preserve garden-grown food. This bill also requires the department, to the extent practicable, to purchase food grown, harvested, prepared, processed or produced in the State when purchasing food for an emergency or supplemental food program for elderly or low-income persons.

NOTE: Representative Craig Hickman’s bill that covers all our bases and was voted out of committee with a unanimous Ought to Pass with a slight amendment to clarify language about end consumers.  In section 4 it contains the local food sovereignty language.

LD # 1376    An Act To Establish a Local Food Producers and Processors to Consumers Pilot Program

Summary:  This bill establishes the Local Food Producers and Processors to Consumers Pilot Program. The pilot program exempts local producers and processors in the towns of Blue Hill, Brooksville, Penobscot, Sedgwick and Brooklin, all of which have adopted local food self-governance ordinances, from all state licensure and inspection requirements with respect to the production and processing of local foods for sale directly to consumers. The pilot program is repealed in 2022. Each year the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is required to submit a report on the pilot program to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over agricultural matters including any assessment of or comments about the pilot program provided by interested persons, including producers, processors and consumers participating in the pilot program. Upon receipt of the report, the committee may report out a bill relating to the pilot program.

NOTE:  This bill was sponsored by Senator Brian Langley and was voted out of committee unanimously Ought to Pass.   The towns listed are some of the first to pass the local food sovereignty ordinance and were chosen because of their geographic closeness allows for the easy forming of a local food council.

LD # 1284    An Act To Expand the Local Foods Economy

Summary:   This bill requires the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to administer programs to support the expansion and coordination of the use of fresh Maine foods in aggregated and institutional markets, including school food service programs.

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is directed to provide grants under the agricultural development grant program for the purpose of conducting market feasibility studies and developing business plans for local food infrastructure operations in Maine to connect and enhance relationships between fresh food producers in Maine and aggregated and institutional markets, including school food service programs, and food purveyors. The Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry may not award a local foods grant unless the applicant provides matching funds in an amount that is no less than 50% of the grant amount.

The department is also directed to provide loans under the Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund to applicants in diverse geographic areas in the State for the purpose of establishing local food infrastructure operations located in Maine. Prior to awarding a local food infrastructure loan, the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is required to determine that the potential overall impact of a proposal on Maine’s agricultural economy and industry is beneficial to and in the best interest of the State.

The bill also establishes the Maine Food Infrastructure Advisory Committee, which includes representatives of statewide and regional organizations involved in supporting agriculture, public health, the environment and the state economy, including representatives of the member entities of the farm-to-school work group established by Resolve 2009, chapter 106.

NOTE: This excellent bill introduced by Senator Chris Johnson and co sponsored by five members of the committee (Hickman, Dill, Saviello Chapman and Marean) sadly passed out of committee on a divided vote 7-5 Ought Not to Pass.  It may still go to a vote in the two houses so there is still hope.  It addresses our critical need to  rebuild the local food infrastructure.

You can find further information on these bills by going to the web site of the Maine Legislature (http://legislature.maine.gov/) and putting the bill number in the box labeled LD #.  Note that the Presenters of the bills in the work session are the original sponsors; each is approaching the issue of community self-governance of local food and protecting traditional food-ways from a different angle.  Each is also a co-sponsor of other bills; you can find all co-sponsors on the web site.  Look for your legislator and write in thanks if they are listed for any of these bills. Ask for their help on getting them passed in the full legislature.


More Food Rights Bills at the Maine State Legislature

May 5, 2015

  These bills will be heard on Thursday May 7th, 2015 by the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry in room 214 of the Cross Office Building in Augusta.   Immediately following the hearings on these bills the committee will go into work session to consider LD 783 the Right to Food Constitutional Amendment that had its public hearings last Thursday and LD 991 the act to amend the current GMO labeling law here in Maine.

Please join us if you can. 
HP0644, LD 925 An Act To Promote Small Diversified Farms and Small Food Producers
Representative Ralph Chapman’s bill to make the local food sovereignty ordinances statewide.
SUMMARY:   This bill facilitates direct sales between Maine farmers and consumers. It allows persons preparing food in their own homes to sell directly to consumers or to offer homemade food at certain events without being licensed as food establishments.
SP0459, LD 1284 An Act To Expand the Local Foods Economy
A bill submitted by Senator Chris Johnson concerning fresh food sales to institutions.
SUMMARY:   This bill requires the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to administer programs to support the expansion and coordination of the use of fresh Maine foods in aggregated and institutional markets, including school food service programs.
The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is directed to provide grants under the agricultural development grant program for the purpose of conducting market feasibility studies and developing business plans for local food infrastructure operations in Maine to connect and enhance relationships between fresh food producers in Maine and aggregated and institutional markets, including school food service programs, and food purveyors. The Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry may not award a local foods grant unless the applicant provides matching funds in an amount that is no less than 50% of the grant amount.
The department is also directed to provide loans under the Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund to applicants in diverse geographic areas in the State for the purpose of establishing local food infrastructure operations located in Maine. Prior to awarding a local food infrastructure loan, the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is required to determine that the potential overall impact of a proposal on Maine’s agricultural economy and industry is beneficial to and in the best interest of the State.
The bill also establishes the Maine Food Infrastructure Advisory Committee, which includes representatives of statewide and regional organizations involved in supporting agriculture, public health, the environment and the state economy, including representatives of the member entities of the farm-to-school work group established by Resolve 2009, chapter 106.
HP0877, LD 1291 An Act To Promote Food Self-sufficiency for the People of the State
Representative Craig Hickman’s bill with the local food sovereignty ordinance in article 4.
SUMMARY:   This bill directs the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, in coordination with various state agencies, to develop and administer an agricultural jobs network linking farms and facilities that process agricultural products grown in the State with available workers who are involved in farming or a local food industry or who are required to perform community service and to develop an educational marketing campaign to promote food self-sufficiency by encouraging the public to grow gardens, to raise farm animals and to preserve garden-grown food. This bill also requires the department, to the extent practicable, to purchase food grown, harvested, prepared, processed or produced in the State when purchasing food for an emergency or supplemental food program for elderly or low-income persons.
SP0506, LD 1376 An Act To Establish a Local Food Producers and Processors to Consumers Pilot Program

Senator Brian Langley’s bill to establish a pilot program.

SUMMARY:  This bill establishes the Local Food Producers and Processors to Consumers Pilot Program. The pilot program exempts local producers and processors in the towns of Blue Hill, Brooksville, Penobscot, Sedgwick and Brooklin, all of which have adopted local food self-governance ordinances, from all state licensure and inspection requirements with respect to the production and processing of local foods for sale directly to consumers. The pilot program is repealed in 2022. Each year the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is required to submit a report on the pilot program to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over agricultural matters including any assessment of or comments about the pilot program provided by interested persons, including producers, processors and consumers participating in the pilot program. Upon receipt of the report, the committee may report out a bill relating to the pilot program.


Joel Salatin’s Great Maine Adventure in His Own Words

May 3, 2015

 

Craig Hickman, Joel Salatin and Heather Retberg at Thursday’s Hearing


 Here is what Joel Salatin wrote and shared on the Polyface Farm Facebook page about his time in Maine on Thursday April 30th, 2015, heretics all!

“Today was yet another confirmation that the tension between the orthodoxy and heresy is alive and well.
I was asked by the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s head litigator, Pete Kennedy, to help an effort in Maine that looks at least hopeful for food freedom. By the way, anyone and everyone who cares about food choice and direct producer-consumer options should join the FTCLDF–it’s doing more for the integrity food movement than any organization in the world.
Craig Hickman and his partner operate a small farm in Maine. Both come from professional backgrounds but find the farm both therapeutic and deeply satisfying. Their little farm was cooking right along until they got a couple of goats and began milking and making cheese. A little sign by the road letting neighbors know about their milk and cheese seemed like a good way to launch.
Within 48 hours the food police arrived and told them this was illegal. To say Craig got fired up would be an understatement. He ran and won as a delegate in the Maine legislature–becoming Representative Craig Hickman and now in his second term. A dashingly handsome, articulate man, Hickman describes himself as a Libertarian Democrat. Now how about that?
He put in a constitutional amendment that reads as follows: Right to Food. Every Individual has a natural and unalienable right to food and to acquire food for that individual’s own nourishment and sustenance by hunting, gathering, foraging, farming, fishing, or gardening or by barter, trade or purchase from sources of that individual’s own choosing, and every individual is fully responsible for the exercise of this right, which may not be infringed.
Hickman and many others in Maine are now capturing the attention of the entire country as they sail into freedom waters. This amendment, which must first pass a super majority in both houses and then go before the citizens of Maine in a referendum, gives standing to individuals who find government regulators standing between them and the free exercise of acquiring their food.
The hearing started promptly at 1 p.m. and went until a few minutes after 3, with about 30 people speaking in favor and two speaking against. As you can imagine, those speaking in favor were farmers wanting to sell, eaters wanting to buy, Indians wanting to extend to the white man the same food acquisition privileges (hunting) given to natives by right through treaties, and a host of articulate liberty-loving attorneys and local food advocates.
My comments, limited to 3 minutes, are as follows:
Maine is rich in resources, but imports 90 percent of its food and suffers the highest food insecurity rate (15 percent) of any New England state. Seeing these numbers, you’d think it was a desert, but Maine is far from a desert.

Now to the orthodoxy vs. heresy. The two dissenters, true to form, were the Maine Farm Bureau Federation and the director of the Maine Department of Agriculture. Sometimes predictability is almost humorous.
The farm bureau gentleman began his remarks by saying he was an ordained minister and volunteered at the food bank and believed that this food freedom proposal would not help the hungry. In fact, he advocated more giving through the food bank as the best alternative to help the hungry.

Farm bureau is labeled geopolitically as conservative, but there is nothing conservative about this testimony. It plays right into the hands of the disempowering forces of programs rather than self-help responsible liberty. The fact is that more food choice, more food producers, more community-imbedded food options increase food production, food availability, food price competition, and ultimately benefit everyone, including the hungry.  To assume that the most efficacious way to help the hungry is with more food banks places the farm bureau squarely in the camp of the most helpless victim-oriented top-down policies bandied about by the liberals. The farm bureau is so beholden to the industrial food system that it feels compelled to obfuscate its own consistency whenever food liberty rears its ugly head.
The other detractor, of course, was the director of the Maine department of agriculture. The galley gasped as he asserted that anybody has access to all the food they want. During questions following my comments, I pointed out that the supermarket, for all its apparent choice, actually has an extremely narrow type of product. You won’t  find Aunt Hilda’s home made quiche there; you won’t find raw milk there; you won’t find non-chlorinated chicken dressed in the back yard. The insurance, slotting fees, and Good Agricultural Practice certifications required to get on a supermarket shelf preclude the good stuff.  
It reminds me of the condescension that an Australian farmer told me last week when her sausages were condemned by Primesafe (the Australian counterpart of the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service). She quoted the inspector as saying “I don’t understand your kind of people.” In fact, it brought me back to about 5 years ago when I did a presentation to a roomful of about 100 food inspectors in Northern California, asking them if anyone had ever heard of the book OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA–not a single hand went up. Then I asked if anyone had ever heard of the film FOOD INC.–not a single hand went up.  Indeed, the orthodoxy of the industrial food system has no clue what our food freedom tribe thinks and can’t imagine why we can’t be satisfied with pasteurized milk, Hot Pockets, and microwavable frozen dinners. They see this as choice; we see it as poison.
The good director went on to say that he was concerned about the consequences this constitutional amendment would have on the food safety system. For a man of his stature to be blind to the consequences of food safety with the current bureaucratic top-down regulatory system is either naive or deliberately misleading.  I pointed out during questioning that our side did not guarantee perfection. Nobody can guarantee perfection.
The question is not whether somebody will get sick or if we can design a fail-proof system. The question is whether or not we can abide people who want to exercise their personal food choice for the fuel of their internal bacterial community to make that choice. If not, why not. If so, pass the amendment and let’s go.  His other concern was that it might impair commercial farming. Obviously he thinks Polyface is not a commercial farm. This condescending spirit certainly reveals a holier-than-though attitude and an aggressive prejudice against drug-free compost-based people-centric direct marketing farms.
It was a distinct honor and privilege to be surrounded by such positive food liberty advocates. I wanted to put them all in my briefcase and bring them to Virginia. If they can get this passed, it will be a huge shot across the bow of the entrenched orthodoxy that the heretics have not only survived the inquisition, but have thrived and the reformation is on its way. It’s time.”


Joel Salatin in Augusta!

April 22, 2015

MAINE: Get on the Bus for GMO Labeling and Right to Food in Maine!

What: Rally and public hearing on GMO labeling bill and Right to Food amendment
When: 
Thursday, April 30th 2015. Rally begins at noon. Public hearing begins at 1 p.m. 
Where: 
Rally outside the State house; Public hearing at 214 Cross Building, State House Complex, Augusta, Maine


We are closing in on a couple of big wins for food consumers in Maine, but we need your help to convince lawmakers to protect Maine citizens, not Monsanto’s profits. 

A bipartisan GMO labeling bill (LD 991) and a Right to Food amendment (LD 783) are headed for public hearings in the Maine legislature on Thursday, April 30. We need your support to make sure these bills are passed. So, to make it easier for you to attend the rally and public hearing, OCA will pay for buses from Portland, Bangor and Unity. 

RSVP here for a free ride from Portland, Bangor or Unity to a rally and public hearing on GMO labeling and the Right to Food at the Maine State House on Thursday, April 30. Or plan your own car pool!

LD 991:
Maine passed a GMO labeling law in 2013, but it included a trigger clause that requires five other New England states, including New Hampshire, to pass labeling laws before Maine’s law can take effect. 

LD991, “An Act To Amend Maine’s Genetically Modified Food Products Labeling Law” would remove that trigger so the law can be enacted, giving Mainers the right to know now–not years from now.

Monsanto lobbyists are fighting tooth and nail to kill this bill and keep consumers in the dark. Their interference delayed a public hearing that should have happened weeks ago. Now they are concerned about what will happen when this bipartisan bill reaches public debate. 

Almost 97 percent of Mainers support mandatory labeling of genetically modified food. And no wonder. Last month’s declaration by the World Health Organization that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup (sprayed on 84 percent of GMO foods) is a probable carcinogen has made it more urgent than ever that Maine consumers have the right to know if their food contains genetically modified ingredients.

Maine should take the lead on this issue and give Mainers the chance to decide for themselves if they want to eat genetically modified food.

You can make it happen. RSVP here for a free ride from Portland, Bangor or Unity to a rally and public hearing on GMO labeling and the Right to Food.

LD 783, “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Right to Food”

LD 783 is a bill that proposes to amend the Maine constitution in order to give people the right to acquire food of our choosing and ensure their legal right to protect their health, property, food and lives.

The Right to Food bill states:

“Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to food and to acquire food for that individual’s own nourishment and sustenance by hunting, gathering, foraging, farming, fishing or gardening or by barter, trade or purchase from sources of that individual’s own choosing, and every individual is fully responsible for the exercise of this right, which may not be infringed.”

Increasingly, corporate food monopolies control our right to access the food of our choosing. And when they go to court to maintain that control, they often win. LD 783 would protect the rights of Maine citizens, not the “rights” of Big Food.

We need a 2/3 majority vote to get this bill before the people. The first step is to urge the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to pass the bill unanimously out of committee. 

We need your help to do that. RSVP here for a free ride from Portland, Bangor or Unity to a rally and public hearing on GMO labeling and the Right to Food.

Help us convince our legislators to pass this resolution and send the constitutional amendment proposal to a referendum vote this fall.

Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farm in Virginia, a leading voice for diversified eco-farming, will join us at the hearing to speak in favor of the Right to Food amendment.  Let’s put Article 25 in Maine’s Bill of Rights.

Food is Life. We have a right to it. 

RSVP here for a free ride from Portland, Bangor or Unity to a rally and public hearing on GMO labeling and the Right to Food.

Facebook event for the Public hearing: https://www.facebook.com/events/1480434938898170/

RSVP for a bus:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1wvOLt0jOiFD-m-cQKNIOGC8V-SPgrL1Kef0_fbIU0d8/viewform

More about LD 991: http://www.mainelegislature.org/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280055641

More about LD 783
http://www.mainelegislature.org/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280055343

Donate for #MaineLabelGMOsNOW!
https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=11927

See you on April 30! Thanks!


Raw Milk–Raw Nerves

March 28, 2015

 

 

  At the work session on Thursday March 9th 2015 the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry listened to their committee analyst regarding the two raw milk bills under consideration this session and then adjourned to party caucuses without any discussion of the bills.   They reconvened and, with the Republican half of the committee refusing to table the bill, voted them both out of committee “ought not to pass” on a straight party line vote with one Republican Senator absent.    Thus the vote was tied and the bills will move forward to a full legislative vote on a divided committee report.  What this means is that the Republicans successfully thwarted any effort to discuss this bill.   Civil discussion of our differences of opinion, a bedrock principle of any participatory form of government, denied.

Representative Saucier and Representative Chapman did attempt to start the discussion but they were mostly ignored and the votes were called.

At the public hearings the week before there was testimony presented on both sided of the issue.  Last year, the governor pledged support for a direct sales raw milk bill so long as farmers’ markets weren’t included.  The fact that the vote was straight party line, and that there was much arm twisting going on in the hallway by a former member of the committee, proves this is not the case.   This particular former committee member has stated publicly that it is his mission to block anything we try to do this year.   He has established himself as the Governor’s mouthpiece on these issues thus dashing any hope of there not being a veto if either bill gets through the legislature.

And so we move on to other more hopeful bills.   Including Representative Chapman’s bill LD 925 An Act To Promote Small Diversified Farms and Small Food Producers.  No public hearing has been scheduled for this bill  yet.   Stay tuned.


Rep. Hickman introduces bill establishing a right to food

March 17, 2015

For Immediate Release

March 16, 2015

 



Rep. Hickman introduces bill establishing a right to food

Maine has New England’s highest rate of food insecurity

 

AUGUSTA – A bill to establish a constitutional amendment declaring that every individual has a natural and unalienable right to food will be heard before the Legislature in the coming weeks

 

Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, has introduced a resolution that would amend Maine’s Constitution to address the issues of food security and food self-sufficiency in Maine. 

 

Food is life,” said Hickman. “I believe that access to wholesome food is a right for every individual. When one in four children among us goes to bed hungry every night, we must dobetterWe cannot allow a single one of us to go hungry for a single dayMaine has all the natural resources and the hard-working, independent-spirited people to grow, catch, forage, process, prepare and distribute enough food to feed ourselves and strengthen our local economies. Let us stop importing more food per capita than any other state on the continent.”

 

Because the bill proposes to amend the Constitution, two thirds of the Legislature will need to approve the resolution and send it to the people for a vote in the next statewide election.

 

With more than 84,000 hungry children, Maine has New England’s highest rate of food insecurity, according to the USDA

 

There is nothing more intimate than eating,” Hickman said. “People are demanding access to the kinds of food that they determine are best for their own health and the health of their familiesFood is lifeThis resolution declares that all individuals have a right to the food of their own choosing and that they be personally responsible for the exercise of this right. I believe that the good people of Maine, if given a chance at the ballot box, will resoundingly agree.”

 

The bill was referred to the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, where it will receive a public hearing in the coming weeks. 

 

Hickman is an organic farmer and House chair of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee.  He is serving his second term in the Maine House and represents Readfield, Winthrop and part of Monmouth.


Testifying Before a Joint Committee

March 6, 2015



Testifying before a committee in Augusta.

When a piece of legislation comes up before the legislature it is first afforded a public hearing in front of the appropriate joint standing committee.   These committees have co-chairs, one from the house and one from the senate, and a representative sampling of both Representatives and Senators of both (and sometimes all three) parties.   If you are interested in seeing a bill pass or alternatively get defeated one of the first places you would want to make your voice heard is at these public hearings.  Here is a brief synopsis of how you go about doing that.

*Write out your testimony.   Unless you are an awfully good public speaker and know your subject extremely well it is best to have written testimony.   For many reasons.   One of which is that you want to provide (in fact it is semi-required) 20 copies of your written testimony so that there are copies for each of the members of the committee plus some extras for interested parties.  It is nice to begin your testimony by addressing the chairs of the committee by name and to end by thanking the committee for its time.

*Keep it to one page.   I once heard a wise old legislator say “If you can’t convince me in three minutes, you can’t convince me.”  Three minutes is about 600 words.   Make your point.   Keep it succinct.   They will hold you to the three minute time limit especially if there are lots of folks wanting to address this particular bill.

*Tell a story.   If you have ever listened to the State of the Union address you know it is often a series of stories.  The President tells stories about real people, using them to make a personal point about each issue he wants to address.  Your stories should be true and about you or someone you know well.   Make sure the committee knows this is personal to you.   These representatives care about the people they serve and want to hear our voices.  Why else would they volunteer to sit through these, often mind-numbing, meetings?

*If you cite sources such as research articles or government statistics provide copies of those sources as well.   Show that you are not just spouting off the top of your head but that the sources you reference actually do exist.  

*When you testify you will be asked to sign in as either “for”, “against”, or “neither for nor against.”   The testimony will be heard in that order with the primary sponsor of the bill (a Senator or Representative) speaking first and then any other legislator offered time to speak and then the general public.   Sometimes a state employee of the particular department affected will be asked to speak.  Lobbyists included.

*Be prepared, as best you can, for questions.  Often there are none but occasionally one of the members of the committee will want to probe further into the facts of your statement.   They are usually fairly nice about it but try not to be caught off guard by whatever they may ask. That can be very embarrassing.

*If you cannot be there to testify in person you can do one of two things: 1) someone else can take your written testimony to the hearing for you and present it or 2) you can send in your written testimony.   If you do the later it is advisable to send a copy to each member of the committee individually to be sure they see it.

*And lastly don’t forget work sessions.   If you are really interested in a particular bill, and especially if you are really knowledgeable about its subject matter, plan on attending the work session concerning the bill. It is usually scheduled on a separate day.   It is in the work session that these bills are hashed over (and sometimes made into hash) and public attendance at those sessions can occasionally have an impact.  And if the committee knows you have expertise and you are sitting there they may ask you to chime in with your knowledge.

The joint standing committee for Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry chairs are Senator Peter Edgecomb and Representative Craig Hickman.   The clerk of the committee is Cassie Nixon her email address is Cassie.Nixon at legislature.maine.gov  


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